How to Find a Truck Driving School near Fordyce Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Fordyce AR. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Fordyce home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to make sure you’ll receive the right training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Fordyce AR, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B CDL is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Fordyce AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Fordyce AR area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Fordyce AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Fordyce AR schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Fordyce AR schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Fordyce AR schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Fordyce AR school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Fordyce AR employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Fordyce AR area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Fordyce AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Fordyce Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Fordyce is located in southeastern Dallas County, with the city's southern border following the Calhoun County line. U.S. Routes 79 and 167 bypass the city center to the north and west, while Arkansas Highway 8 passes through the downtown area. US 79 leads northeast 42 miles (68 km) to Pine Bluff and southwest 31 miles (50 km) to Camden, while US 167 leads north 35 miles (56 km) to Sheridan and south 51 miles (82 km) to El Dorado. AR 8 leads southeast 26 miles (42 km) to Warren and northwest 49 miles (79 km) to Arkadelphia.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 4,300 people residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 53.3% Black, 42.0% White, 0.5% Native American, 0.2% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.1% from some other race and 1.1% from two or more races. 2.6% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,799 people, 1,737 households, and 1,186 families residing in the city. The population density was 727.8 people per square mile (281.2/km²). There were 2,024 housing units at an average density of 307 square miles (800 km2). The racial makeup of the city was 48.61% White, 49.66% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.42% Asian, 0.75% from other races, and 0.38% from two or more races. 1.19% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Pick the Best Truck Driver School Fordyce AR
Picking the right truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Fordyce AR.
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